Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

William Bonin: The Freeway Killer

Capture and Confession

Over the next few days, detectives kept a close eye on William Bonin. For the next week his activities were unremarkable. He would go to work as a truck driver each day and return home to his apartment late at night, after visiting with friends around town.

The night of Wells' murder, Bonin had hinted to Munro that the drifter had better keep his mouth shut or else. Munro, fearful for his own life, fled back home to Michigan.

Nine days after Wells' murder, Bonin's demons apparently returned and he began looking for a new victim. Police officers tailing his van observed him trying to pick up five different young men, finally succeeding with a 15-year-old boy. They watched as Bonin drove to a deserted beach parking lot and by the time they approached the van, they were able to arrest Bonin in the process of sodomizing the teenager. Tape and rope similar to that which bound his victims was found in the van, as well as William's scrapbook for Freeway Killer stories.

Butts was picked up shortly after Bonin, and Munro was arrested by Michigan State Police a month later. The Freeway Killer team was behind bars. This time there would be no clerical errors.

Bonin expressed no remorse for what he had done although he did demonstrate embarrassment and regret at being apprehended. Once confronted with the evidence he freely confessed to police.

After his arrest Bonin told a reporter "I'd still be killing. I couldn't stop killing. It got easier each time."

Bonin confessed to killing 21 young men and boys. He shared aspects of each crime in horrifying detail.

Describing how he and Munro murdered Wells, Bonin sounded like he was describing a weekend event to coworkers on Monday morning.

"Both me and Jim beat him up prior to killing him," Bonin can be heard saying in a soft monotone on police tapes. "He said he wouldn't tell anyone, just to let him go.

"When we finally got around to killing him, we put a shirt around his neck. I twisted it, and he was strangled."

Years later, Bonin's lack of feeling during his confession would still be remembered by those who were there.

"This guy was impassioned about what he did. He loved it," said Sterling E. Norris, the Los Angeles deputy district attorney who prosecuted Bonin. "Listening to his confession was like sitting in a room of horrors. Here we are talking about killing kids, killing one and throwing him out like a piece of trash, and then going back to get another. It made me sick."


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